This trail is a gem. This particular loop is a slightly longer option than the 7.5-mile route, but like that loop, this one also starts at the Kiddie Trailhead at Skyuka Springs.
What Makes It Great
Views of the Tennessee River (especially during winter) and nice singletrack trails make this run a favorite among Chattanooga locals.
Who is Going to Love It
This loop will, due to its length, draw experienced runners. There are plenty of great hikes along these same trails, so family or friends who don't want to run will have plenty to do as well. There are historic Civil War monuments and interpretive signs throughout the park.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park at the bottom of the mountain on Highway 318 just up from the intersection with Garden Road. There is an obvious pull-off with a sign marking the trailhead.
From the trailhead on Highway 318 the trail climbs steeply for about a half mile and then levels out. After about another quarter mile, follow the signs to Skyuka Springs. The trail is rolling with some mild climbs for about 3 miles. Follow a little trail down to the springs; from there, you'll turn up on the John Smartt trail, which is a mile of continuous climb to the Truck trail (about 700 feet of elevation gain).
At the Truck trail, turn left and run about 3.5 miles to Gum Springs. Turn left and descend a rocky, technical trail about 1/2 mile to a trail intersection. Turn right, then right again back on the Skyuka Trail headed towards your car. (After reaching the top of John Smartt, you are essentially running downhill either gradually or aggressively until you reach the parking lot). This loop is about 9 miles round-trip.